The A4 Avant is a doddle to drive and cruises along quietly at motorway speeds but lacks any kind of fun factor – even the most powerful 272hp models are a bit dull
You can get the A4 Avant with either front or four-wheel drive and with a choice of three petrol and four diesel engines.
If you mostly drive around town you’ll want to pick the 1.4-litre petrol model with 150hp. It’s quieter at slow speeds than the diesels and will accelerate from 0-62mph in nine seconds. Audi claims it’ll return 48.7mpg but you can expect to see a figure in the high thirties in normal driving conditions.
You’ll want to take a look at a 2.0-litre diesel instead if you do lots of motorway miles. These 150hp and 190hp models are slightly quieter at speed than the petrol and will return around 55mpg and 50mpg respectively in real-world conditions.
Want something a little faster? You can also get a pair of more powerful 3.0-litre V6 diesels. The 218hp model can accelerate from 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds and return around 50mpg while faster 272hp cars return around 45mpg and can reach 62mph from rest in just 5.4 seconds.
Sadly, the 252hp 2.0-litre petrol can’t match the more powerful diesel for acceleration or economy – it’ll struggle to crack 35mpg and takes six seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.
The A4 Avant won’t put a huge grin on your face on a windy country road but no other estate this size is as comfortable or as easy to drive
If you want a practical estate that’ll put some sports cars to shame you should check out the S4 and RS 4 models. These come with powerful petrol V6 engines and will blast from 0-62mph in less than five seconds but keeping their tanks brimmed will put a serious hole in your wallet. They also cost more than £45,000 and £60,000 respectively – without adding some expensive must-have options.
All 2.0-litre petrol and 3.0-litre diesel A4 Avants come with an automatic gearbox as standard but it’ll cost you £1,530 on 1.4-litre petrol versions and £1,550 on 2.0-litre diesel cars. It’s well worth the extra cash, however – especially if you do lots of long journeys or find yourself regularly stuck in traffic jams.
All but the entry-level 1.4-litre petrol cars can be fitted with a quattro four-wheel-drive system to provide extra grip in slippery conditions. The standard front-wheel drive setup is surefooted enough however, and can easily deal with a leaf-covered country lane or a few centimeters of wintry slush.
The A4 Avant might be boxier than the standard car but it’s still just as easy to drive around town. The pillars between the windscreen and front doors don’t create any large blind spots at junctions and its larger rear windows give you better rear visibility than in the saloon. You also get front and rear parking sensors across the range to help make it easy to park.
It’s even pretty comfortable over rutted inner-city roads. Its suspension soaks up bumps and irons out potholes reasonably well – even in sporty Black Edition models with their larger 19-inch alloy wheels.
You can get it with lowered sports suspension for £325 to make it feel a little livelier on tight twisty roads but it makes the A4 Avant feel less settled on rough surfaces. The Adaptive Sports suspension is a much better upgrade – it absorbs bumps even better than the standard setup and stops the Avant’s body from leaning in tight corners. It costs £600 on S Line and Black Editions cars and £900 on SE and Sport versions.
Even if you stick to the standard suspension the Audi’s still very relaxing to drive. It’s quieter than the Mercedes and BMW and all models come with cruise control to give your right leg a rest on long drives.
The A4 Avant hasn’t been crash-tested by Euro NCAP but it comes with the same advanced safety kit as the five-star-rated A4 Saloon. You get automatic emergency braking to help stop the car if it senses an obstacle ahead and a system that’ll keep the brakes on after a collision to help prevent you injuring your neck should you be hit by another car.
If safety is high on your list of priorities you should also consider the optional Driver Assistance Pack. It costs a fairly reasonable £1,250 and comes with lane-keeping assist, traffic sign recognition and adaptive cruise control that’ll hold you a safe distance from the car in front.